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Patients Who Want To Use Suboxone For Addiction Can Have Trouble Getting It, Study Finds04:30
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This 2018 file photo shows packets of buprenorphine, a drug which controls opioid cravings. (Elise Amendola/AP)
This 2018 file photo shows packets of buprenorphine, a drug which controls opioid cravings. (Elise Amendola/AP)

The medication Suboxone can help patients addicted to opioids stop using the drugs.

But a study from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health shows how hard it can be to find a doctor or nurse in this state to prescribe it.

Researchers posing as patients in Massachusetts and five other high-overdose states called prescribers who say they offer Suboxone treatment. Half said they weren't taking new Medicaid patients.

Even when they were, patients had to wait, says lead author, Dr. Michael Barnett.

"The majority of physicians were able to offer an appointment within less than a week, but addiction is a condition where we want to strike while the iron's hot," he says. "If somebody wants treatment, the best time to offer is, you know, now."

Barnett lists some reasons why:

  • Very few doctors and nurses have taken required training to offer Suboxone.
  • They may not want to treat patients with a drug addiction.
  • And payments for Medicaid patients are typically lower than for those with private insurance.

Click the audio player next to this story's headline for an interview with Dr. Barnett.

This segment aired on June 3, 2019.

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